We are indebted to ACORP (via Transport Scotland) for providing Grant funding for our first year projects and what a busy year we had in our first 15 months of existence.
Highland Mainline Improvements
The upgrade to the Highland Main Line (HML) supports the introduction of ScotRail’s High Speed Trains (HSTs) and improved timetable. This project is part of the Scottish Government’s ongoing investment in Scotland’s railway.
View Our Highland Mainline Improvements Information Programme
Kingussie Railway Poster Project
At last! Well over twelve months work has finally come to fruition, with traditional railway posters now brightening up the platform at Kingussie. This is the result of collaboration between HML CRP and local artist’s group, the Society of Strathspey and Badenoch Artists (SBSA).
The SBSA artists are the people responsible for painting wonderful images of the things and places which can be enjoyed in and around Kingussie. The paintings were used as the basis for traditional railway posters, which have been incredibly well received by everyone who has seen them.
The photos show the completed posters in-situ, project co-coordinator HML CRP Secretary Ailsa Schofield with the posters, and a close up of one of the posters.
Pitlochry Station Bookshop
HML CRP were able to give an early Christmas Present in December 2016 to the Bookshop volunteers, who have now raised over £250,000 for charity since opening in 2006, a cheque for £4,500 was presented to Roger Haworth - Representative of Bookshop by Sally Spaven - Chair , Ailsa Schofield - Hon Secretary and Kate Howie - Treasurer, all HML CRP.
They were joined by Allan Brooking, the ScotRail CRP's Community Liaison Executive, who was supporting the HML CRP.
HML CRP received funding in August 2016 from ScotRail for a Project focussing on the Heritage of the line and stations, each community is working on their own element and it will include 2 Interpretation Panels of Archive material and photos for display at each of the 8 Stations, and a line guide/map in hard copy and on-line. The Heritage Map was finished in June 2018 and we are now working on accompanying panels and a future Tourism booklet. There has been a delay on this project as we hoped to work with Locus Guides of Stow originally, but then had to source a new provider when they pulled out. Jules Akel worked on the Line-Guide/Map, and we acknowledge help and support from the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Neil Sinclair - Author and Dr Ann Glen of the Scottish Association for Public Transport. Match funding was provided by the Pitlochry Partnership and the Enchanted Forest Trust for the map element and we have also secured some funding from the Pitlochry Tourism Trust for the panels.
We received funding for our Branding Project in November 2016. We were delighted to work with Jules Akel, Graphic Designer, of Dalwhinnie on finally designing our new Logo. And here it is. We also commissioned new floral containers at the 8 Stations to promote our CRP.
Branded signage was made for the floral containers and also banners for using at HML CRP events, both meetings and social/community events. An element of this funding was also for running costs of our Website. www.highlandmainlinecrp.co.uk for the next 12 months.
As a group, we remain loyal to our Communities and will use local businesses and artisans wherever possible.
Launch in November 2015
Our official launch took place in Pitlochry in November 2015 and was jointly sponsored by ACORP and the Pitlochry Partnership. Pitlochry in Bloom sponsored an amazing cake and we welcomed over 40 representatives from industry, Scottish Government, Partners and community groups. We are very grateful for everyone's support in making possible a most enjoyable day of celebration.
Our own website www.highlandmainlinecrp.co.uk took a while to put together. Whilst recognising we will not ever be a busy commuter line except perhaps to the cities of Inverness and Perth from our extremities, we have been looking for our own distinctive identity and have decided to promote the Heritage of our line and use some of the material collected for the 150th Celebrations. We feel that any sustainable increase in passenger numbers can only viably come from persuading more visitors and tourists onto the line. We know that under 10% of visitors to the Cairngorms National Park travel by public transport, so there is huge potential there. We have embraced social media via our Facebook and Twitter accounts and have encouraged the local communities to engage with us and share aspirations for the HML.
Commission of Architect
To draw up plans for Conservation of Pitlochry Station Northbound Buildings.
We were able to secure the services of a local Architect, who has drawn up plans for the renovation and conservation of the Northbound Offices on Platform 2 at Pitlochry Station. This is a wooden Swiss Chalet style building dating from 1898 and Grade A listed. ACORP kindly funded this for us and the plans are now with the National Railway Heritage Trust and Network Rail as we slowly progress work on the roof and chimneys and external salt storage. Both offices will be for Community Use, one for Pitlochry in Bloom and one for the HML CRP.
Strathclyde University Marketing Plan
Having previously worked with Dr Matthew Alexander of Strathclyde University, we were delighted to welcome, not just one, but five International students, completing their PhD's. We tried not to overly influence their work, as coming from vastly different areas of the globe to Scotland, we felt it important to see what they had to say about us. We are still working our way through their recommendations on Marketing for our line.
Familiarisation and Audit Visit
We certainly hit the year running. End of March 2015 saw us off on a Familiarisation Trip (pictured above) of all 8 stations accompanied by Transport Scotland, Tactran, Mike Dennison of Sustrans - Cairngorms National Park, John Yellowlees - External Relations Manager ScotRail, Jim Wilkin - ACORP Project Officer and our PhD students from Strathclyde University. On the most glorious day and fortified by bacon rolls, coffee and tea and sunshine we all met at Dunkeld & Birnam to begin. Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit, Andrew Heiton Jnr and Dougie Maclean all got a mention, concern about the very low platform was discussed and then it was off to Pitlochry.
A whistle stop tour of all the buildings, one of which we hope to acquire as an office for our CRP in future and a look at the very successful Station Bookshop and next was Blair Atholl. Our visit there succeeded in gaining a door on the Waiting Room, so an early success. We met Deborah at Dalwhinnie and admired the 2013 Heritage Panels, leading us to a future project for all the Stations. Newtonmore next, a wonderful conversion of a Signal Box into a holiday let and then Kingussie, where sadly the Council are moving out of the Station and the buildings are up for sale. A quick lunch break at the Grant Arms and a presentation to Jim Wilkin who had supported us through the tortuous process of Constitutions and paperwork, but sadly wasn't continuing his journey with ScotRail. Next stop was Aviemore and the Cairngorms views and finally Carrbridge Station where the Station Group supplied much appreciated cakes and tea before we all headed home. The day saw us cover 200 miles, and some many more! But it allowed each of us to appreciate the problems faced at every Station. We are now working up a detailed Station audit and hope to have a comprehensive document for future reference.